12 MARCH 1864, Page 8

figures," but calculations of a kind as intelligible to mostmen

as face of such a bonus on private enterprise is simply impossible, equations to London cab-drivers, and which, though it might and and the only advantage on the side of the State—its per- would interest the nation, could never in the nature of things be manent solvency, is an advantage which the rich now enjoy, made a hustings cry. The riveted attention of the House was and which should not in common justice be refused to the in itself a triumph ; the deep impression received by the whole poor. It was argued that the insurances would lead to crime, nation on the following day was a greater one ; but the greatest guardians insuring lives which they could, if so disposed, of all was this : there is no man in England who reads that terminate. Mr. Gladstone simply rejects all insurances on speech who does not feel that Mr. Gladstone could be trusted Persons under sixteen, and as to husband and wife killing each as a leader in the war against pauperism which Liberalism, other for the insurance money, they have only to go to the bene- once its nerves have been retoned by a term of opposition— volent societies in order to do it now. That is merely an argu- that hydropathy of politics—must and will commence, that meat againstinsuranceitsolf, i.e., against the only scientific pria- we have among us a man who in domestic politics might be ciple which can be used so as to equalize the risks and the looked up to as a chief, who really could lead instead of comforts of the different orders of society, to give, in fact, to merely reflecting the conclusions of the popular mind. Mr. labour some few of the advantages of capital. Gladstone will, we believe, lose through a sentimental selfish- Finally, it was objected that there was no case made out ness on matters of foreign policy the full benefit of that con- for the Bill, that no pressing necessity existed for so great a vietion, but it is much to have inspired it, much to have cor- step forward or backward in legislation. Mr. Gladstone did reoted his lack of personal following—Mr. Gladstone's per- not answer that argument as he might have done, simply manent, perhaps irreparable, want—by a national admiration because he dared not. If he had ventured to tell out the and esteem. whole truth, the truth, for example, as Mr. Pratt must know The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not address himself it to be, England would have rung from end to end with cries to the whole subject of his Bill, and perhaps it was unneces- of alarm and suffering. We, however, are not bound by his sary. To oppose the sale of annuities to the poor while they responsibilities, and we say distinctly that of the three millions are sold every day to the rich may surpass the assurance even of persons who are now connected with these societies there are of Mr. Sheridan, and besides there is no " interest " with not one million who are not wasting their money, who are not voters outside and directors within to organize party pressure. buying promises which can be mathematically proved to be in- It is the insurance clause which the great and little insuring capable of fulfilment, and not ten thousand who are not risk- offices resist, and it was on the insurance clause that Mr. ing the loss of their accumulations. Mr. Gladstone did Gladstone proved, step by step, the worthlessness of their case. Put this last point fully, and as it is mere impertinence in us They came up, of course, with shoals of arguments, the reasons to rival his lucidity, we give his statement, which, more- for not doing anything being usually limitless in number. It over, contained a most important pledge. "I now wish to was asserted that the idea was novel,—novelty being with call the attention of the House to the subject of what is Liberals like Mr. Sheridan a synonym for the unpardonable sin, styled lapsed policies. Almost all the life assurances made —that it was a new responsibility flung upon the shoulders of by the labouring class are made when they are young, and the State. Mr. Gladstone showed that so far from being new, the covenant made with them is of the most severe descrip- Government was already subsidizing all existing friendly tion. You preach to them about prudence and about the societies, that if older than 1844 they were entitled to duty of providing for those they leave behind, and yet a 41. 10s. per cent. upon their capital, a direct bonus of covenant is made with them, by which an intermission of a one-third their income from funds, and if new societies, few weeks in their payments, after they have paid for ten, were entitled to 31. 16s., or about 9s. per cent. more twenty, or thirty years, deprives them of their policy. Are than the rate at which the State can borrow. Besides these these fair terms to make ? It appears to me exceedingly de- direct subsidies, they enjoy exemptions from taxation on sirable to afford to the labouring man the means of insuring stamps, probate, and income, or, in other words, everybody not his life, without being subject to that fearful penalty of the belonging to a friendly society is taxed a little more in order loss of the whole he has paid, in consequence of a temporary that members of those societies should be comfortable. In- intermission of pay meats. It will appear a strange relation stead of these bonuses, Mr. Gladstone offers nothing but full , to those who hear me when I state that the number of these law is a contrivance to secure the doing of justice, and we : security, and therefore, so far from increasing the liabilities doubt whether a crowd would not say unanimously that when lof the State he positively decreases them. Then it. was Hall slew his wife justice was done. We are very far from I urged that the great offices, with their immense capital and wishing to push this line of argument to an extreme. Unhap- I resources, could and would do all the business required. Mr. pile, this practice of killing women because they refuse I Gladstone replied that the Post Office keeps up an insurance to marry a man, or deceive him, is a growing one, office for its employes, that the maximum amount to be insured and the law is a means of education, and must uphold is double the 1001. which he proposes to make his limit, a truer notion of justice. But it is one thing to break and that the Sun, the Atlas, the National Provident, the off an imprudent engagement at the request of relatives, Scottish Equitable, the Amicable, and the Rock, all refused another to refuse any longer to gratify the lust of a paramour, the business. It was not profitable enough to tempt the great another to desert even a trusting husband, and another to societies, and so the postmen were left with the alternatives lure a man to dishonour without even a motive. It was not of exceptional rates levied because they were poor, or inferior Hall's money that tempted his wife, for he was poor. It was security. Then it was said that the business could never be not any spark of affection, for she left him on the wedding done because Government could never ascertain the value of day. Yet for years she nursed his passion, and married him any particular life—a beautiful argument from societies whose apparently only for the zest of betraying him. It is hard to raison (rare is the theory of averages. Mr. Gladstone replies define exactly how much provocation entitles a murderer to by proving that in industrial assurances the only test which mercy, but we are sure that justice may be appeased without surgeons rely on is the nature of the workman's business, the taking George Hall's life. averages being almost immutable. A labourer's life is worth so many years, and a sailor's so many, a domestic servant's MR. GLADSTONE ON STATE INSURANCE. so many more, and a needlemaker's so many less, there being OH if Mr. Gladstone could but be trusted on foreign trades so dangerous as to be almost outside the possibility of politics! What a Premier he would make ! It is scarcely insurance. The Government can base its rates either on these too much to say of him that among English statesmen of broad facts, or on reports from its medical officers, or, as Ministerial rank his is the one inventive mind, the one we would venture to suggest, on a high arbitrary rate which can originate a plan practicable in detail, yet large based on the general mortality of the people, to be re- enough to arouse the national imagination and effect a national duced after every five or ten years of continued assurance. change. His speech on Monday night in defence of the life That plan has been found a strong additional incentive assurance clause of his Annuity Bill had but one defect—it was to perseverance, while it diminishes the pressure just just a little too truthful. There was nothing gained by telling as the hand gets feebler. The middle class grow richer the country populations that the mass of petty insurance towards old age, for their capital accumulates ; the poor societies were insolvent, for if the statement were literally grow poorer, for their capital, their strength, gradually dimi- true, which, as the societies can remodel their rules, is not rashes. Then it was asserted the competition of Government quite the case, such an assertion made by such a man in such would crush even the soundest societies. That, said Mr. a place could but hurry on a catastrophe it is the interest of Gladstone, is a high compliment to the Government ; but as a the country to delay. For the rest, Mr. Gladstone held the matter of fact every sound society will be left entirely House for two hours enchained by his defence of a measure unaffected, for while it can make of its funds four and a half which avowedly will not benefit the class from which members and five per cent., or sometimes even more, Government cannot are selected, which involved not only a " wilderness of invest at an average of more than 31. Competition in the lapsed policies in the Friend-in-Need Society during five years was 18,000, out of 86,000 policies made. Thus 18,000 men who had insured their lives, and paid for a certain time, lost the whole benefit of their money. The !Loyal Liver Society had 70,000 lapsed policies out of 535,000." Upon the main point, however, he could not, and did not, dilate, though be showed that there were great societies whose whole assets after years of work were less than one year's income—which means certain and swift insolvency—but ho brought forward one fact which divides insurance from every other kind of commercial enterprise. In every other undertaking the expense comes first, the profit afterwards, but in insurance the profit comes in years before the claims. The premiums may exceed the outgoings for thirty- seven years, and the average interval is not less than twenty, a period of time which seems to the Montague Tiggs of the lower classes beyond the reach of calculation. Twenty years of immunity !—imagine the premium upon fraud, or the dismay with which men would hear that the penalty, say of forgery, was in all cases to be delayed for that interval of time ! Indeed, if the society is lucky, detection may be delayed for seventeen years more, and every villain with a brain has, there- fore, a special temptation to be a villain in insurance, and every promoter who is not a villain to attract business by making his rates "liberal," i.e., ruinous for the first thirty years of the society. As a matter of fact, the societies break at a fearful rate, and—though this is matter for elaborate calculation—the grand strain on them ought to begin in or about 1872, and will, we believe, create misery throughout the country equal to that involved in a succession of bad harvests. Mr. Glad- stone proposes to save the poor of the new generation from a repetition of that catastrophe, to enable a man to make for his wife a provision beyond the range of accident, or fraud, or those miscalculations to which all, except the highest actu- aries, are in such a business subject ; to do this without ex- pending a shilling from the taxes ; to do it by cultivating instead of decreasing the faculty of self-help ; and in doing it to abolish one of the hundred fetters which now bind down the labourer like a serf to the parish in which he is an in- cumbrance, while the next county is starving for want of the needful hands. And there is danger, nevertheless, that the House of Commons, out of a party dislike to a great, but overbearing intellect, or a hustings fear of the cry insolvent societies may raise, will throw out the Bill, and compel the advocates of the poor to turn their attention wholly to a rise in the rate of wages. Have the country gentlemen forgotten that for every man who buys such an in- surance four people will be kept off the poor-rates, or do they not perceive that every man with a deferred annuity is a man with a direct pecuniary interest in abstaining from emigration ? Or is it that they really wish to see America offer to the work- ing class every advantage the want of which in England tempts them to depart, carrying with them among other things the rentals produced by their labour ? They do not seem to like Mr. Bright's scheme for reconciling the labourers to their home, are they going to reject also Mr. Gladstone's alternative? The retribution if they do will be neither light nor long de- ferred, but we are unable to believe that the first great legis- lative proposal towards making the interests of the workmen identical with those of order, can be rejected by a House which in its fears for that order has rejected a five-pound franchise.